An elixir of life has moved a step closer – and it could work after just one treatment.
Scientists have found a way to reprogram a type of white blood cell called a T-cell, which normally helps the immune system fight disease.
As well as causing lower body weight and improved metabolism, these T-cells also attack senescent cells, responsible for many of the diseases we grapple with later in life.
Senescent cells are those that stop replicating and as we age they build up in our bodies, resulting in harmful inflammation.
A team from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, have genetically modified T-cells into CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T cells, to attack senescent cells.
They used this treatment on mice and were astounded by the results.
According to their study, published in the journal Nature Aging, the mice ended up living healthier lives with lower body weight, improved metabolism and glucose tolerance, and increased physical activity.
Assistant Professor Corina Amor Vegas said: “If we give it to aged mice, they rejuvenate. If we give it to young mice, they age slower.
“No other therapy right now can do this.”
These CAR T cells have been used to treat a variety of blood cancers and were approved for this purpose in 2017 but this study is one of the first to push the treatment’s limits beyond that.
Unlike other drugs which need to be taken daily these CAR T cells were found to have extreme longevity and just one dose at a young age was found to have lifelong effects.
Researchers said a single treatment can also protect against conditions that commonly occur later in life, like obesity and diabetes.
Dr Amor Vegas added: “T cells have the ability to develop memory and persist in your body for really long periods, which is very different from a chemical drug.
“With CAR T cells, you have the potential of getting this one treatment, and then that’s it. For chronic pathologies, that’s a huge advantage.
“Think about patients who need treatment multiple times per day versus you get an infusion, and then you’re good to go for multiple years.”
Her lab is now investigating whether CAR T cells let mice live not only healthier but also longer.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.